Dylan Carlson pedal and guitar
A few years ago I was fortunate and honoured enough to meet a very special man who was on tour with his band Earth.
I didn't know a lot about Dylan before meeting him except he had started this seminal band, and had had a few years of illness and addiction where he hadn't released anything musically.
I wasn't sure what to expect when he turned up to do an instore the first time but he turned out to be one of the loveliest men I've met. Kind, gentle, polite and humble, and his 2 instores have been 2 of my all time favourites.
We kept in contact and talked about the usual stuff people like us talk about ..... records, music and pedals. Dylan had mentioned a couple of times about my TYMEXAR and how he'd never found that tone that he liked from the old original MXR Dist + and since I made a version in my big box TYMEXAR that could switch between the original germanium clipping diodes and the slightly later block logo silicon clipping I thought I'd make him a version that might work for his sound.
The germanium version has slightly less output and is "fizzier" around the edges and the silicon version has a louder, clearer output while still keeping that great distortion tone intact. I've written heaps about them HERE and eventually ended up making the official Bob Mould signature version, the Beauty & Ruin which is based on the silicon version, after Bob tried and used one of my St Paul Distortions.
I thought about what I could do to make it special for Dylan and I'd been mucking around with clipping on these for a while. I'd tried a bunch of NOS diodes in different formats to see if there were any nuances that could work well harmonically and there were some nice combinations but then I got the idea to see what it sounded like with NO clipping diodes.
The two way mini toggle that switched between Ge and Si was ditched for a three way with both of those selections and a middle position with no clipping.
It was awesome. I can't believe I hadn't tried this before. The op amp still has break up but it's cleaner and wider frequency response due to the lack of diodes opening up the signal to everything the op amp and caps would allow. I played around with it for a while and loved the no clipping setting but then got the idea that everything in the pedal would run pretty happily up to about 16V so I put it on my bench power supply and started winding it up from 9V.
Both diodes setting were very similar as the diodes were "squashing" the signal back down at the end of the circuit although there were slight variations in volume, gain and harmonics. The no clipping setting however is GREAT at about 12-14V. More like a full freq boost with some grit (from the op amp) and heaps of headroom. Since most pedal power blocks have a 12V option this may become a thing with the TYMEXAR ?
I emailed Tone who does all my artwork with a pic of one of the tattoos on Dylans hand and said "can you do me a Mini TYMEXAR plate with this in the artwork ?" Of course Tone nailed it as always and sent this back which I sent off to be printed onto my aluminium face plates.
Dylan received the pedal a couple of days before they're US tour and sent me this pic with this "its on my board as we speak :) played it at austin psych fest and last night in albuquerque and tonight in tucson :) Luve it and its gonna stay there :) drc"
I mentioned before how Dylan had played in my shop a couple of times and they are both a treasured memory for me (well, I have them recorded so its not hard to remember them :) ) and after the second instore in 2014 we were talking after the show and he had been eyeing off an Ibanez RG that was hanging on the wall on my shop.
He went over and grabbed it and started playing it as we spoke. He asked if he bought it could we set it up with his gauge of strings and have it ready for the Earth show the following night. "Of course" I said. "just grab it before soundcheck to make sure it's OK"
We did the deal and Dylan then gave me his personal guitar he'd been touring with for years. It's a Hagstrom re-issue and is all stock except for the Seymour Duncan pick ups. I was seriously shocked. I had seen Dylan playing this guitar at both instores and last time Earth toured here and had always seen pics of it on tour with him.
I don't take things like this lightly and when I say I'm honoured to know, work with and interact with people like Dylan, I'm not kidding. After getting to know Dylan both personally and musically I think he's one of the most amazing artists on the planet. I have become a huge Earth fan (last years Primitive and Deadly was in my top ten) through this experience and understanding just how important Dylan is in the modern music world is something to cherish. I'm fortunate to work with many people I consider to be originators, seminal, influential, important, amazing ......... and I have to say, so far I'm lucky enough that ALL of these people have been absolutely amazing to me (I'm just a guy who makes stuff under his house) and changed my perception of the world in a positive way. Dylan is definitely one of those people.
Thank you Dylan for showing me how special humans can be.